Disclaimer 1 : This shoe was supplied by the manufacturer
Disclaimer 2: Okay not really a disclaimer, just that I’m reviewing these shoes again after more than 3 years…
So yes as the disclaimer #1 states; I did in fact receive the X-talon 212 for free, a few weeks before its official release. At the time there were hardly any minimal shoe blogs on the web, discussions were on forums – I’m not a fast runner but I do post a lot about running and I started a few threads about barefoot running on the FRA forums, it was a bit of a surprise to be asked what my shoe size was and then to receive a free pair the following week, I guess Inov-8 thought I’d be a good advert.
I haven’t had a free pair of shoes since.
So this is where a reviewer gets a conflict, it’s hard to knock a free pair of shoes. Initially I posted some very positive comments over on the FRA forum, and sure at the start I quite liked this shoe. I used it extensively in the UK and on some French mountains and it was okay until it started to wear… Then if I ran in anything approaching dry conditions for more than a few miles both of my big toes would blister up painfully. The upper had stretched to the point that my toes were riding over the edge of the mid-sole and this caused the hotspots.
After 100 miles or so I had to stop wearing them, unless it was really sloppy mud then I could run in them for a few miles. The fit is fine around the mid foot and heel for me – it’s just the front of the shoe, which feels very different to the Roc-lite. I guess sizing up a half may have been better but I would have gained too much length in the shoe which would be problematic on descents. So unfortunately it didn’t work out for me. Others have reported that they are okay but some people have experienced exactly the same blister problems as me.
Technically, on paper, the shoe is good. Excellent studded grip, far better than Roc-lites for pure fell running, the studs are spread out enough so you don’t end up picking up much dirt. The sole is sticky, which is makes them great on polished and wet rocks (until the sticky wears out though) I liked the laces, other people had referred to them as “cheese wire” but I thought they were quite good. The shoe has a low stack hight which I like and the drop is around 6mm making this a great transition option – although I think 6mm is too much heel. For that reason I’d say that if you are looking for a shoe for that niggling 10% of extreme vertical mountain running that you do perhaps this is not it.
Here’s what I did to my pair in the end…
This was my first attempt at “zeroing” a pair of shoes, aka the “hack job” also known as “messing up the shoes forever”